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  • Cashew farmers face daunting challenges in Kwara

    Apr 7th, 2016

    Cashew production in Nigeria is receiving a boost as many people are now conscious of the economic value of the crop. This fact has also made government at all levels pay more attention to it, especially with the fall in the price of crude oil.

    Kwara State is a major producer of cashew in Nigeria as the crop is grown in all the 16 local government areas of the state.

    The chairman, Cashew Farmers Association in Kwara State, Mr. Abdulwahab S. Akinola, observed that despite the efforts and achievements of many of the cashew farmers in the state, the challenges are so enormous that the only way out is for the government to give them support.

     He said: “Some of the cashew trees are old and need to be replaced. We also have the challenge of non-availability of land to plant cashew, no access to new breed variety of cashew and we have been appealing to government to help us with the new breed that can grow fast and give more yield. No insurance for the farmers. Government should have a safety policy for cashew farmers in terms of disaster, fire incidents, land grabbers, invasion by herdsmen, etc.”

    Speaking on how they dispose their product, Akinola said it was their policy to sell to local processors and give them preference because they created jobs while the remaining was sold to foreigners, who exported them.

    “If Nigerian government can focus more on cashew farming, it will create more employment and generate a lot of revenue into the government coffers as well as enhance our foreign exchange because if we process cashew in Nigeria it will be more attractive at the international market. For now, Vietnam and India process our cashew in their country. We should not allow that to continue.

    “As cashew farmers, we are only interested in the cashew nut and throw the fruit away. We lose more than 3 billion litres of cashew juice every year as a result of that. In each of our farms, the least we can get is 10,000 litres of juice. There is little the association can do because it requires a lot of money and assistance from the government, while the private sector is also not helping matters.

    “Governments do not have policy that favours industries that can use the cashew fruit for juice,” Akinola explained.

    On the production of cashew nuts, he said they produced 55,000 tons annually in Kwara State. Most farmers do not have knowledge of how to harvest cashew which affects its yield and sales at the end.

    According to him, ordinarily, cashew should be allowed to fall by itself before removing the nuts after two or three days but some of the farmers complained that thieves usually carted away their product once it was ripe which was why many of them resulted to plucking it earlier.

    “A ton of cashew nut is now sold for N300,000 and we have quality control officers who determine the quality of the cashew nuts. Normally, nuts are expected to be bigger and about 160 or 170 pieces per kg. If it is more than this, that means the nut is small,” he said.

    While commenting on the planned three million cashews to be planted by the federal government in three years, he said they were tired of government policy on paper without coming to pass.

    “We are expecting them if they are serious about it. But for Kwara, we are expecting 1.5 million trees while other states should make do with the remaining,” he added. Also speaking, the Special Adviser on Agriculture and Rural Water Support Service to the Kwara State government, Mr. Anu Ibiwoye, also confirmed that the state has comparative advantage in cashew production as sizeable amount of cashew is also produced in Oyo State.

    “Kwara State has a substantial production of cashew because it grows in all of the 16 local government areas of the state and it is produced in sizeable quantity but the state has not been able to have a structured platform for harmonising the potentials that exist in the cashew sub-sector.

    “The state governor has directed that we should try and put together a structure for cashew in the state and recently approved that cashew should be listed as one of the strategic crops that the state government will focus on, not only for its export potentials but because it is also a source of livelihood for a lot of people,” Ibiwoye said.

    The special adviser said the state was also trying to tap into the federal government’s policy on cashew production and see how many from the three million cashew trees would be planted in the state.

     “We are encouraging farmers to plant cashew. The state government will facilitate the availability of high breed cashew seedlings that will begin to produce in the next three years and we will ensure that our farmers work with the National Cashew Association and the state branch to ensure that they key into it and drive the process through,” he assured.